With the 2020 season transformed because of Covid-19 pandemic, the Gogue Performing Arts Center is opening their season to its audience in a different format: virtually.
The Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center at Auburn University this fall will livestream a series of three virtual concerts by some of Alabama’s most renowned and talented musicians.
According to Jonathan Osborne, marketing and communications director at the Gogue Center, the decision to move to virtual entertainment falls in line with current Covid-19 procedures on Auburn University’s campus.
“At first, we wondered how the idea would be received by our audiences,” Osborne said. “But after seeing how virtual concerts took over social media during the quarantine era, I think that this will help The Gouge reach audience members who normally may not come in to see a performance in person.”
The GPAC LIVE: Alabama Artists Series will feature performances by John Paul White, Elley Duhé and Eric Essix, remotely, allowing all guests to enjoy the different genres of music from the comforts of their homes.
White is an acclaimed singer-songwriter who lives in Florence, Alabama. He has cultivated a two-decade-long music career in Nashville, first as a solo artist and from 2008-14 as a member of Grammy Award-winning duo The Civil Wars.
In 2016, White relaunched his solo career with the album “Beulah” and last year released “The Hurting Kind,” a tribute album to the country music of his childhood. He is a co-founder of the Florence/Muscle Shoals-based Single Lock Records label and regularly tours with other Single Lock artists.
Duhé, born near Mobile, grew up on the Gulf Coast in a family of musicians with ties to the New Orleans music scene. Since 2016, she has released a series of singles, including the pop ballad “Happy Now,” as well as the 2018 EP “Dragon Mentality.” Her collaborations include work with Tarro, Cool & Dre and the producer Zedd on “Happy Now.”
Essix is a Birmingham-based contemporary jazz artist who has released 25 full-length albums over a prolific three-decade-long career. His latest effort, “Songs From The Deep,” contains nine tracks all written, arranged and produced by Essix that revisit the favorite theme of his Birmingham and Southern roots. For Essix, it is soul-revealing music that continues to chart his journey to reconcile love for his homeland with its tumultuous history.
Beginning on Oct. 29, all three concerts will be broadcast live from the Gogue Center at 7:30 p.m. on their scheduled performance dates. White will perform Oct. 29, Duhé will perform Nov. 19 and Essix will perform Dec. 3. Concerts will take place on the Sergio Marentes Stage in the Walter Stanley and Virginia Kathryne Evans Woltosz Theatre.
All GPAC LIVE performances are free to view with registration. Amy Miller, the director of programming and education at the Gouge, is excited for the innovation that took place to make this three-part event come to life.
“In the era of physical distancing, performing arts venues everywhere have had to innovate in order to share and celebrate the arts with audiences and communities,” Miller said. “With our GPAC LIVE series, we can continue to present incredible performances live from our very own stage — all while taking necessary safety and public health measures into consideration.”
In addition to their live performances at the Gogue Center, all three musicians featured in the Alabama Artists Series will participate in a Talkback Thursday interview before their concert appearance and present live-streamed K-12 school performances and virtual master classes with Auburn students.
Miller sees the Alabama Artists Series as an excellent way for the Gogue Center to further amplify its commitment to celebrating the incredible artistic diversity found in Alabama’s different geographic regions.
“Just like our Kennedy Center Couch Concert in June, these three upcoming concerts highlight the breadth of musical artistry that exists throughout our state,” Miller said.
Osbourne encourages members of the Auburn community to take advantage of the virtual concerts and to check the Gogue Center’s website for more information about registration.
“We are excited to give the community an event like this during a time when things are already so unprecedented,” Osbourne said. “The Gouge Center is looking forward to bringing great concerts to tons of households during the series.”